Mark Laune, President and CEO of People Saving Bank, recently started a year-long term as the 2023‑2024 MIBA President. In his own words, he has “big shoes” to fill as he follows in the footsteps of those who have held this position before him. He is ready to jump in and fight the good fight to ensure that the future of community banking is secure.
There are a number of challenges that the community banking industry is facing right now. Mark feels the biggest challenge is the credit union tax exemption. “Credit unions continue to buy up local community banks and expand their taxpayer-subsidized area. This has a detrimental effect on our local communities.” Mark continued, “When they stop paying taxes, who will pay the taxes? It’s a loss in revenue, and it will negatively impact the communities they are located in.”
Another issue that he is concerned with is Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires financial institutions to collect, maintain and submit certain data for small businesses on an annual basis. “The rule coverage is too broad and will have an impact on most community banks. The rule needs to be adjusted to exclude the smaller community banks or exclude community banks in general. It places too much burden on them,” he said.
When asked what bankers can do to deal with these challenges, Mark stated, “We, as bankers, need to get involved — to talk to our Congress, our Representatives, our Senators. We have to fight the battles together, and the more bankers that get involved, the better the chances of getting pushback on some of these proposals.” Specifically, from a credit union side, he said, “They have a lot of lobbyists on their side of the table, so we’ve got to push back from our side of the table as well.”
As MIBA President, Mark plans to stay involved at both local and national levels and to follow initiatives closely. Over the past few years, he has visited Washington, D.C., with the association and will continue to do so. The visits to the nation’s capital provide an opportunity to address issues and work together with representatives to find solutions.
He hopes that MIBA members will follow suit and actively engage with and support important banking causes, locally with MIBA and nationally with the ICBA. “The more voices that are heard, the more likely our objectives can be met,” said Mark. In addition to keeping Congress informed, he hopes that members will reach out to their peers and talk about what’s going on and encourage them to get involved. Donating to the PAC is equally important.
According to Mark, one of the biggest benefits of MIBA membership is “working with other community bankers throughout Missouri — the friendships that are made are great.” He continued, “But also the knowledge that these individuals bring and discuss, with all of their experience, is outstanding. Learning from lifelong bankers is a better lesson than can be taught in any school for that matter.” Mark feels very fortunate to know so many lifelong bankers who are happy to help the younger generation of bankers come up in a very positive and encouraging way and help keep the community banking segment alive and well.
When Mark was a college student at Missouri State University (MSU), he started working part-time as a drive-up teller at Citizens Bank. Upon graduating in 1991 with a BS in accounting, and because of the influence of three community bankers he’d been working with, Mark decided to continue his career in banking, specifically community banking. He was fortunate that there was an opening in the accounting department at People Savings Bank; he took the job and he’s been there ever since.
Throughout his time at Peoples Savings Bank, Mark has worn many hats. Towards the end of his first year with the accounting department, a loan officer quit. Mark volunteered to take over her portfolio and found a new, rewarding position. And then, about seven years later, the issue of Y2K came about. Mark and the chief lending officer led the committee to address it. In doing so, he learned the information technology side of banking. Through hard work and a willingness to take on new challenges, Mark has had a remarkable career. He encourages others to do the same, especially younger, up-and-coming bankers. “There is so much opportunity in banking if you’re willing to work hard and learn more,” he stated.
Having worked at the same bank his entire career is something that Mark is proud of. One of his favorite work experiences was the day he was promoted to President and CEO, followed closely by the growth he’s overseen at the bank. When he started, the bank had assets of $37 million, and today that balance is around $600 million.
When asked what his favorite part of his job is, Mark said it is the friendships he’s developed with employees and the chance to help customers. “Whether it’s helping them buy their dream home or the car they’ve always wanted, sending their children to college or buying a small business or farmland, the satisfaction of helping them and being part of that transaction is worth every second of the hard work you’ve put in to make that experience better for the customer,” Mark said with a smile.
He attributes his work ethic to his parents, who taught him to work hard, be dedicated to the job and always give 110%. When asked, Mark said that his parents were his first mentors. They both worked full time, his father as a construction worker and part-time farmer, and his mother as a secretary for a public school. The example they set for him has had a strong influence on Mark’s successful career.
Tom Walkenbach, retired Chief Lending Officer at Peoples Savings Bank, has been a mentor to Mark. They have worked together for over 26 years. “Tom taught me how to work with customers and treat them fairly He taught me the best advice you can give a customer sometimes is to just say no. He was very instrumental in helping me learn about community banking. I’m a better person and banker because of his influence,” said Mark.
When Mark mentors others, he gives the following advice.
- Get to know your peers both in the bank and in the community. Listen, talk and learn from them. They’re an asset in your banking career and in life as well.
- Work hard. The world is ever-changing, and a lot can happen in the future. But a good, hard work ethic will go a long way no matter what. If you work hard, people will always notice.
- Enjoy your job and have fun with it. If you don’t enjoy your job, you may want to look into something else because life is too short not to enjoy what you do every day.
Mark is a huge supporter of charitable organizations both at work and in his personal life. Last year, the employees of Peoples Savings Bank gave over 1,400 hours of volunteer work and donated thousands of dollars to various charities. Mark has served on the boards of the United Way and Knights of Columbus. He also likes to give back locally; he has coached Little League and by supporting church and school fundraisers.
In closing, Mark encourages bankers to get involved and stay involved in promoting the industry and making community banking better. He said, “We are the backbone for success on Main Street. We’re here for our customers each and every day. Surround yourself with good people; they make you better as a person and in your career as well.”
Mark is a lifelong resident of New Haven, MO. He and his wife, Renee, have been married for 31 years and have two children — a daughter and a son. Mark loves the outdoors — golfing, hunting and fishing are his favorite pastimes. He also enjoys relaxing at home, watching sports and cooking meals for the family on the barbeque.